|Indian python, Python molurus|
Python is the name given to a genus of constricting snakes. Such snakes are not venomous. The family in question is the Pythonidae. Pythons are more closely related to boas than to any other snake family. Boulenger (1890) thought this group was a subfamily (Pythoninae) of the family Boidae (boas). However, boas produce live young, while pythons are oviparous: they lay eggs.
Python can be found in Southeast Asia and Africa, and other members of the family are found in New Guinea and Australia. Pythons can range from 3 feet long in species like ball pythons to 29 feet in species like reticulated pythons. Python is one of eight genera in the family. They all have a rather similar life style.
Most members of the family are ambush predators: they stay motionless in a camouflaged position, and then strike suddenly at passing prey. They wrap their body round the prey and squeeze. To kill its prey, the python squeezes it to death, then swallows it whole. Larger pythons can prey on animals as large as a full-grown deer. In Africa, there are pythons that eat gazelles. Most of their prey is much smaller than that. Pythons may take several days or even weeks to fully digest prey. Despite their size, pythons are rarely dangerous to humans.
Python can be up to 900 cm long and weigh up to 90 kg, but males are much smaller and lighter than females. The python can live up to 30 years. The breeding time is between 60 or 70 days.
Research indicates that all snakes, including pythonids, are descended from a venomous ancestor.
Pythons, like all snakes, are reptiles without limbs. Their long body only consists of a head, trunk and tail.
References[change | change source]
- McDiarmid R.W; Campbell J.A. & Touré T. 1999. Snake species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. vol. 1, Herpetologists' League. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4
- The death is caused by suffocation (asphyxiation): the prey cannot breathe.
- Bryan G. Fry et al (2006). "Early evolution of the venom system in lizards and snakes". Nature 439 (7076): 584–588. doi:10.1038/nature04328. PMID 16292255.
- Hannover Zoo: Python, viewed 2012-12-07